Courts need to ease some COVID-19 restrictions
Courts need to ease some COVID-19 restrictions

Courts need to ease some COVID-19 restrictions

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The public will be allowed to enter New Mexico’s courthouses without face masks from March 21, but masks will still be needed in courtrooms and jury assembly areas.

The New Mexico Supreme Court this week announced the updated COVID-19 protocols for all state courts and courthouses, including district, metropolitan, magistrate, municipal, and probate courts.

The courts will also launch a new program that allows the public to pay fines and fees using credit and debit cards and online, the courts’ administrative office announced Tuesday.

Credit card terminals will be available at counters in the courthouses in all district, appellate and some magistrates’ courts across the country from April 1st.

The program will also allow the public to make payments online by credit or debit card through the state court website at gmpproperties.nmcourts.gov.

Another important change in the court’s COVID-19 rules affects physical distance in courthouses and courthouses.

The courts will comply with a new requirement of three feet physical distance, with effect from 21 March. Prior to that date, the courts required a six-foot physical distance to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“The reduced physical distance should help the courts conduct further trials by enabling them to make more efficient use of available space in courtrooms and jurisdictional areas,” Judge Shannon Bacon said in a written statement. Bacon leads the Supreme Court Emergency Response Team, which developed the revised protocols.

Sidney Hill, a spokesman for the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, said the details of the new protocols, such as jury trial arrangements, are still under discussion Tuesday. The public will still be asked to answer a set of health screening questions before entering a courthouse.

The public must confirm that within the last 14 days they have not been diagnosed with COVID, had contact with anyone with COVID, received a positive test result, traveled outside of New Mexico and other conditions.

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